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Saint Louis of Toulouse

Cosmè Tura (Cosimo di Domenico di Bonaventura) (Italian, Ferrara ca. 1433–1495 Ferrara)

Date:
1484?
Medium:
Tempera on canvas, stretched over wood, transferred from wood, gold ground
Dimensions:
Overall 28 1/2 x 15 5/8 in. (72.4 x 39.7 cm); original size 28 1/4 x 12 5/8 in. (71.8 x 32.1 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Theodore M. Davis Collection, Bequest of Theodore M. Davis, 1915
Accession Number:
30.95.259
  • Gallery Label

    This picture, unfortunately not in good condition, is from an altarpiece, the reconstruction of which has been much debated; a companion panel of Saint Nicholas of Bari is also known. The saint is shown from a low viewpoint, as though standing on the edge of the frame. The elaborate pose and expressive, corrugated drapery are hallmarks of Tura's style. Tura worked for the Este court in Ferrara and was a painter of enormous originality.

  • Catalogue Entry

    Forthcoming

  • Provenance

    Theodore M. Davis, Newport, R.I. (bought from a count in Ferrara through the dealer David Costantini; 1902–d. 1915; his estate, on loan to the MMA, 1915–30)

  • Exhibition History

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of the Arts of the Italian Renaissance," May 7–September 9, 1923, no. 29 (as "A Bishop," by Cossa[?]).

    Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. "30 Masterpieces: An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 4–November 23, 1947, unnumbered cat. (as "Saint Louis of Toulouse," by Cosimo Tura).

    Iowa City. State University of Iowa, School of Fine Arts. "30 Masterpieces: An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 9–March 31, 1948, unnumbered cat.

    Bloomington. Indiana University. "30 Masterpieces: An Exhibition of Paintings from the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 18–May 16, 1948, no catalogue.

    Boston. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. "Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara," January 30–May 12, 2002, no. 8.

    Ferrara. Palazzo dei Diamanti, and. Palazzo Schifanoia. "Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: l'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este," September 23, 2007–January 6, 2008, no. 90.

  • References

    Emma B. Andrews. Journal entry. November 26, 1902 [in "A Journal on the Bedawin, 1889–1912: The Diary Kept on Board the Dahabiyeh of Theodore M. Davis During Seventeen Trips up the Nile," [New York], 1918, 2 vols., unpaginated], writes that the dealer David Costantini is meeting them in Naples, bringing some works of art that Davis had bought on his recommendation several weeks before, including this picture ("a monk by Tura").

    Bernhard Berenson. North Italian Painters of the Renaissance. New York, 1907, p. 218, lists it as "Bishop" under Ferrarese, before 1500, and calls it close to Cossa.

    Adolfo Venturi. "Le opere de' pittori ferraresi del '400 secondo il catalogo di Bernardo Berenson." L'arte 11 (1908), p. 431, cites Berenson's [see Ref. 1907] attribution to an artist close to Cossa.

    Joseph Breck. "Dipinti italiani nella raccolta del Signor Teodoro Davis." Rassegna d'arte 11 (July 1911), p. 114, attributes it to an unknown Ferrarese artist.

    B[ernard]. Berenson. "Un plateau de mariage ferrarais au musée de Boston." Gazette des beaux-arts, 4th ser., 13 (October–December 1917), p. 465, attributes it to a close follower of Tura and Cossa.

    Bernard Berenson. Essays in the Study of Sienese Painting. New York, 1918, p. 79, fig. 45 [same text as Ref. Berenson 1917].

    Bryson Burroughs. "The Theodore M. Davis Bequest: The Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 26, section 2 (March 1931), p. 14, attributes it to Cossa; notes that it is damaged and that the gold ground is modern.

    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 581, lists it as "A Franciscan Bishop," by Cosimo Tura.

    Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 500.

    [Georg] Gombosi in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 33, Leipzig, 1939, p. 482, lists it as a Bishop by Tura, citing Berenson.

    Harry B. Wehle. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Italian, Spanish, and Byzantine Paintings. New York, 1940, pp. 130–31, ill., attributes it to Tura and calls it Saint Louis of Toulouse; dates it to Tura's late period; states that it was probably part of a large polyptych made for the high altar of the church of San Luca in Borgo, near Ferrara, of which the other seven panels are: Saints Anthony of Padua (Louvre, Paris), Nicholas (Musée des beaux-arts de Nantes), Sebastian and Christopher (both Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), James (Musée des beaux-arts, Caen), and Dominic (Uffizi, Florence), and the Madonna and Child (Accademia Carrara, Bergamo); calls the Saint Nicholas the pendant to the MMA picture.

    Sergio Ortolani. Cosmè Tura, Francesco del Cossa, Ercole de' Roberti. Milan, 1941, p. 80, pl. 59, calls it a Franciscan bishop, possibly Saint Louis of Toulouse; relates it to works by the painter Longhi calls "Vicino da Ferrara," later identified by him as Baldassare d'Este.

    Benedict Nicolson. The Painters of Ferrara. London, 1950, pp. 12, 18, attributes it to Tura; follows Wehle [see Ref. 1940] in identifying it as part of an altarpiece along with panels now in Berlin, Florence, Paris, Caen, and Nantes, but believes this polyptych may have been painted for the parish church of Argenta rather than the church of San Luca in Borgo, near Ferrara; dates the work after 1480.

    Michel Laclotte. De Giotto à Bellini: les primitifs italiens dans les musées de France. Exh. cat., Orangerie des Tuileries. Paris, 1956, p. 90, under no. 121, rejects Wehle's [see Ref. 1940] reconstruction involving all seven standing saints, but does believe that this work and the Nantes Saint Nicholas come from the same ensemble; dates these two saints after the others.

    Mario Salmi. Cosmè Tura. [Milan], [1957], p. 48, pl. XXXVIII, attributes it to Tura's workshop and identifies it as Saint Louis of Toulouse.

    Maurizio Calvesi. "Nuovi affreschi ferraresi dell'Oratorio della Concezione—I." Bollettino d'arte 43 (1958), p. 155 n. 18, rejects Ortolani's [see Ref. 1941] tentative attribution to "Vicino da Ferrara".

    Eberhard Ruhmer. Tura: Paintings and Drawings. New York, 1958, pp. 43–46, 59 n. 109, pp. 179–80, pl. 78, attributes it to Tura and tentatively identifies the figure as Saint Louis of Toulouse; calls it part of a five-part altarpiece, possibly made for the church of San Giacomo, Argenta, of which the center panel was the Madonna now at Bergamo, the lunette was a Dead Christ Supported by Two Angels (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna), another lateral panel was the Saint Nicholas at Nantes, and the other two lateral panels are lost; relates the work to the Saint Anthony of Padua altarpiece (Galleria Estense, Modena) of 1484.

    Piero Bianconi. Tutta la pittura di Cosmè Tura. Milan, 1963, pp. 40, 60, pl. 91, calls it at best the work of a student based on a design by Tura, and rejects Ruhmer's [see Ref. 1958] reconstruction.

    "Italiener, Spanier, Franzosen, Engländer." Katalog der Gemäldegalerie. 1, Vienna, 1965, p. 157, under no. 729, considers Ruhmer's [see Ref. 1958] reconstruction unconvincing.

    Eberhard Ruhmer in Encyclopedia of World Art. 14, New York, 1967, col. 340, lists it as part of the altarpiece made for the church of San Giacomo, Argenta, along with the panels in Bergamo, Nantes, and Vienna.

    Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools. London, 1968, vol. 1, pp. 432–33, attributes it to Tura's workshop and identifies the figure as Saint Louis of Toulouse; calls it the left panel of a polyptych and the companion of works in Florence, Nantes, Paris, and possibly Bergamo.

    Enrico Guidoni and Angela Marino. "Cosmus Pictor: Il 'nuovo organo' di Ferrara: armonia, storia, e alchimia della creazione." Storia dell'arte 4 (1969), p. 406, attribute it to Tura and call it Saint Louis of Toulouse.

    Burton B. Fredericksen and Federico Zeri. Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections. Cambridge, Mass., 1972, pp. 205, 424, 607.

    Rosemarie Molajoli. L'opera completa di Cosmè Tura e i grandi pittori ferraresi del suo tempo: Francesco Cossa e Ercole de' Roberti. Milan, 1974, pp. 87, 90, no. 47, ill., lists it under works attributed to Tura and calls the figure possibly Saint Louis of Toulouse; questions Ruhmer's [see Ref. 1958] reconstruction.

    Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, North Italian School. New York, 1986, pp. 63–65, pl. 17, attribute it to Tura and identify the figure as Saint Louis of Toulouse; accept only the Nantes Saint Nicholas as part of the same altarpiece as the MMA work, expressing skepticism of the reconstructions involving other panels.

    Marcello Toffanello. "I pannelli di polittico di Cosmè Tura: Alcune osservazioni sull'ultima attività dell'artista." Arte documento 6 (1992), pp. 97, 101 n. 1, calls it possibly by a collaborator of Tura.

    Béatrice Sarrazin. Catalogue raisonné des peintures italiennes du musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes: XIIIe–XVIIIe siècle. Nantes, 1994, p. 96, under no. 18, accepts its association with the Nantes Saint Nicholas.

    Marcello Toffanello. "I pannelli di polittico e le ultime opere di Cosmè Tura: Altre osservazioni." Arte documento 8 (1994), p. 46, finds it plausible that the MMA and Nantes paintings could be the lateral panels from the polyptych painted by Tura in 1484 for the church of San Niccolò at Ferrara.

    Monica Molteni. Cosmè Tura. Milan, 1999, pp. 149, 156, 162–63, 232, ill. p. 147, attributes it to Tura and calls it Saint Louis of Toulouse; suggests that, with the Nantes Saint Nicholas, it may have formed a triptych with a lunette, but does not believe this ensemble would have included either the Bergamo Madonna or the Vienna Pietà proposed by Ruhmer [see Ref. 1958].

    Joseph Manca. Cosmè Tura: The Life and Art of a Painter in Estense Ferrara. Oxford, 2000, pp. 75, 92–93, 95, 100–101, 111, 140–41, 143–44, 162, no. 27, fig. 27, attributes it to Tura, identifies the figure as Saint Louis of Toulouse, and calls it a late work; accepts it as the companion of the Nantes Saint Nicholas, but reserves judgment on the association with the panels in Caen, Florence, Berlin, and Bergamo.

    Joseph Manca. Cosmè Tura: The Life and Art of a Painter in Estense Ferrara. Oxford, 2000, pp. 75, 92–93, 95, 100–101, 111, 140–41, 143–44, 162, no. 27, fig. 27, attributes it to Tura, identifies the figure as Saint Louis of Toulouse, and calls it a late work; accepts it as the companion of the Nantes Saint Nicholas, but reserves judgment on the association with the panels in Caen, Florence, Berlin, and Bergamo.

    Stephen J. Campbell. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, 2002, pp. 212–15, no. 8, ill. (color), supports Toffanello's [see Ref. 1994] suggestion that the MMA and Nantes pictures formed the side panels of the altarpiece made by Tura in 1484 for the church of San Niccolò; notes that this altarpiece was mentioned by Tura in a letter of 1490, of which he quotes the relevant passage in translation.

    Alan Chong in Stephen J. Campbell. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, 2002, p. 183.

    Jill Dunkerton in Stephen J. Campbell. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, 2002, p. 145.

    Marcello Toffanello in Stephen J. Campbell. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, 2002, pp. 163, 165, 167, 172 nn. 25, 26, figs. 78 (infrared reflectograph), 79 (reverse of paint film), notes that a recent restoration reveals passages definitely by Tura and also provides further confirmation that the MMA and Nantes panels formed part of the same ensemble.

    Joseph Manca in Italian Paintings of the Fifteenth Century. Washington, 2003, p. 665 n. 10, states that the figure cannot be definitely identified as Saint Louis "because of the limited attributes, in particular the absence of the fleur-de-lis".

    Mauro Natale and Giovanni Sassu in Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: l'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti and Palazzo Schifanoia. Ferrara, 2007, p. 51, see a similarity to manuscript illuminations by Guglielmo Giraldi (Saint Paul, ca. 1477; Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana; pl. 91) and Jacopo Filippo Medici (Saint John the Baptist, ca. 1490; Pinacoteca Tosio-Martinengo, Brescia; pl. 92).

    Marcello Toffanello in Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: l'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti and Palazzo Schifanoia. Ferrara, 2007, pp. 352, 356, 358, 360–61, no. 90, ill. (color).

    Stefan Weppelmann in Cosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: l'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti and Palazzo Schifanoia. Ferrara, 2007, p. 308, does not rule out the possibility that the MMA and Nantes panels belonged to the same altarpiece as the panels now in Paris, Florence, and Caen.



  • Notes

    This is one of seven gold-ground panels by Tura depicting standing saints which are often discussed together in the literature. The others are: Saint Nicholas of Bari (Musée des beaux-arts de Nantes), Saints Sebastian and Christopher (both Gemäldegalerie, Berlin), Saint Dominic (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence), Saint Anthony (Musée du Louvre, Paris), and Saint James (Musée des beaux-arts, Caen).

    In 1940 Wehle [see Ref.] suggested that these seven panels, plus a Madonna and Child in the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, comprised a polyptych made for the high altar of the church of San Luca in Borgo, near Ferrara. Nicolson [see Ref. 1950] agreed that all seven gold-ground panels come from the same altarpiece, but tentatively identified the church for which that work was made as San Giacomo, Argenta. More recently, most scholars agree that only the Nantes panel can definitely be said to come from the same polyptych as the MMA work. Toffanello [see Ref. 1994] suggests that this altarpiece may be the one painted by Tura in 1484 for the church of San Niccolò in Ferrara, mentioned in a letter of 1490 from Tura to the duke of Ferrara [the relevant passage of the letter is cited in English in Ref. Campbell 2002, p. 215].

    The condition of the painting is poor, with a thin and abraded surface. Originally arched, the format was enlarged to a rectangle and a landscape was added at the base. In 1934–35 this was removed, revealing minute traces of the original gold ground; the rest was made up.

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